For her powerful stories chronicling the lives of athletes after paralyzing injuries and the integration of Georgia football, among others, rising senior Emily Giambalvo has won the inaugural Associated Press Sports Editors Student Sports Journalism Contest.
“Emily Giambalvo will forever stand as the first winner of the APSE Student Sports Journalism Contest, which reflects well on her and on Grady College and its program,” said Tommy Deas, president of the Associated Press Sports Editors. “Emily’s work was judged against quality entries from various schools across the country and found to be the best. APSE is happy to have given her the platform to receive recognition for her work.”
Each contest entry, reviewed by a group of eight judges, consisted of a feature, breaking news, enterprise, multimedia or video and a wild-card entry. Giambalvo’s winning portfolio included:
- Former Georgia baseball players Chance Veazey and Johnathan Taylor navigate life after paralyzing injuries
- 1971: How one year and five men changed the course of Georgia football
- Sources: 3 gymnasts dismissed from Georgia’s team
- The state of recruiting: Mapping the 25 highest rated players from Georgia and where they signed
- Frix family takes overlooked position from backyard to Sanford Stadium
One of the judges, Reid Laymance, deputy sports editor at the Houston Chronicle, noted two things that stood out to him about Emily’s work.
“The story on the first African-American players at Georgia was very impressive,” Laymance wrote in an email. “First, it was a good idea, although one that most likely had been done before. But the writing and the organization of the story made it feel very fresh, even [though] I knew their tale. Also, the variety of sources both past and present gave it excellent texture. And while I was judging it primarily on writing, the photos that Emily had of the key figures gave it an extra special touch.
“I also thought the multi-media presentation on recruiting in the state of Georgia was fun, informative and easy to look at. Something all of us need to do more of,” he added.
Giambalvo, who is currently interning at The Seattle Times, will receive a plaque and be recognized at the 2017 APSE Summer Conference in New Orleans June 26-29.
“Winning this award was incredibly exciting, and I am honored to be included in that group of student journalists,” Giambalvo said. “It is satisfying to be able to quickly pause and feel proud of some of the stories I’ve written in the last year, but the award also motivates me to continue to challenge myself as a writer and get better. There have been many editors and professors who have invested time into helping me grow as a journalist, so I hope this is gratifying for them as well.”
One of those professors is Vicki Michaelis, John Huland Carmical Chair in Sports Journalism & Society at Grady College and director of the Grady Sports Media program.
“The Associated Press Sports Editors awards are the gold standard in sports journalism,” said Michaelis. “We’re extremely proud of Emily for winning this, competing against the best of the nation’s best. It’s especially fitting that she was recognized for a portfolio of her work, because she strives for excellence in all she does and continually raises the bar.”
The Grady Sports Media program and the guidance of Michaelis and Welch Suggs, associate director of the program, have been essential to her development, according to Giambalvo. But it was her introduction to The Red & Black, the independent student media organization serving the UGA and Athens communities, which sparked in her an initial passion for journalism.
“I have been working at The Red & Black since the first week of my freshman year, and before that, I had never been introduced to journalism. I’m fairly confident I had never even said the word ‘journalism’ until I came to UGA,” Giambalvo joked. “The Red & Black has turned that kid, one whose hands shook when she interviewed someone for the first time, into someone who is embracing the joys and challenges of being a sports writer. I am indebted to the editors who invested in me, and I am endlessly grateful for the talented, hard-working friends who push me to get better every day.”
Rebecca Burns, publisher and editorial adviser at The Red & Black, described Giambalvo as “a tenacious reporter and thoughtful wordsmith.”
“All of us at The Red & Black are so proud of her and so pleased that we published her impressive body of work. But Emily’s achievement extends far beyond individual awards,” Burns said. “As a sports editor at The Red & Black, she has influenced, coached and mentored dozens of her fellow students. The Red & Black has covered Georgia sports since our first issue in 1893, and Emily adds to a legacy of powerhouse sports coverage.”